Editorial Board 1999-2000
Consider the competition
Consider the competition
Major League Baseball pitcher Satchel Paige once said "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." Ontario universities seem to have heeded this advice, a little too much.
Last Monday, as one TA strike finally came to a close at McMaster University another began at the University of Toronto. As a result, 2,400 Toronto TAs have been walking the picket line, wreaking havoc on the lives of around 50,000 students. These situations mirror the even longer battle waged by the TAs at York University a few years ago.
Needless to say, both sides must come to a compromise as soon as possible. But more importantly, university administrators must realize situations like this are symptomatic of a larger blindness on their part towards the needs and wants of students.
TA strikes, tuition hikes and general decisions made without concern for the well-being of students are gradually making universities less and less desirable to young minds. In the race for brains in this country, other avenues to wealth, prosperity and happiness are becoming more attractive.
The birth of e-businesses and the age of the self-made entrepreneur are providing fresh views on how to make it in the "real world." Originality, creativity and blazing your own trail are replacing the university degree as the best ingredients for a successful career. Throw the rise of colleges and technical schools into the mix and the competition for students' dollars is getting pretty tight.
Universities use the ethics of corporations all the time and like any other major business, they must compete for customers and market share. When they sacrifice the well-being of students in pursuit of financial security, they run the risk of losing some very loyal customers. For most of recent history, universities have been the ideal path for young minds, but they no longer have a stranglehold on the market. The less than solid grasp they hold today slips just a little more each time a TA strike, funding cut, or tuition hike takes place.
Ontario's universities are even being threatened from within, by a Tory government which would like nothing more than to turn the university industry into privately funded corporations.
Universities can no longer sit on their high horses and ignore the competition. With each selfish, money motivated move, a few more minds decide to look to other sources for their springboards to success. There will always be those who attend university to enrich their minds, but in a capitalist world the vast majority have their eyes on dollar signs.
It's time for universities to take a look in the rear view mirror and realize they're about to be overtaken in a race they should be dominating.